Connecticut Veterans Legal Center
114 Orange Avenue, 2nd Floor
West Haven CT 06516
Contact Information
Address 114 Orange Avenue, 2nd Floor
West Haven, CT 06516-
Telephone (203) 794-4291 x
Fax 203-889-0111
Web and Social Media
CVLC Staff Attorney Cindy Johnson with Veteran Johnny

The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center’s vision is for all military veterans in Connecticut to live with adequate means, affordable health care, safe and secure housing, and peace of mind. To this end, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center works in medical-legal partnership at VA healthcare facilities to help low-income veterans overcome legal barriers to housing, healthcare and income. By providing free legal services to low-income veterans CVLC helps veterans recovering from homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse rebuild their lives.

At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 2009
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Margaret Middleton
Board Chair Mr. John Bashaw
Board Chair Company Affiliation Reid & Riege, P.C.
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $610,465.00
Projected Expenses $689,465.00

The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center’s vision is for all military veterans in Connecticut to live with adequate means, affordable health care, safe and secure housing, and peace of mind. To this end, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center works in medical-legal partnership at VA healthcare facilities to help low-income veterans overcome legal barriers to housing, healthcare and income. By providing free legal services to low-income veterans CVLC helps veterans recovering from homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse rebuild their lives.


Connecticut Veterans Legal Center arose from the volunteer work of Howard Udell, who first came to the VA Connecticut’s Errera Community Care Center in 2007. The Errera Center is a nationally-recognized VA facility providing mental health, substance abuse, housing and employment assistance to indigent veterans. When, over morning coffee, the veterans learned Howard was an attorney, they started asking him for advice about their legal troubles. Soon a line would form by the elevator on days when Howard was coming in. Howard started taking cases on his own and before long was assisting thirty veterans. He was a walking needs assessment for the legal barriers veterans face in rebuilding their lives. 

Howard joined with attorney Margaret Middleton to incorporate CVLC in 2009 with seed funding from the Yale Initiative for Public Interest Law. New Haven Legal Assistance Association (NHLAA), a local legal aid agency, served as the fiscal sponsor for the project. The mission of the organization was, and remains, to help veterans recovering from homelessness and serious mental illness overcome legal barriers to housing, healthcare and income. Although the co-founders were driven by the immediate needs of the local veterans they met at the Errera Center, they proved an unwitting vanguard in a national movement to serve the legal needs of veterans.

CVLC serves veterans who are confronting a wide variety of legal issues, including family, housing, criminal record expungement, bankruptcy, consumer debt, securing Social Security and VA benefits, employment, estate planning and military discharge upgrades. CVLC is the only organization in Connecticut to overcome transportation and communication obstacles for the state’s most vulnerable veterans by meeting them where they are, on-site at VA mental health facilities. To date, CVLC has helped almost 1,000 veterans, over half of whom were homeless or previously homeless, reintegrate into civilian life by providing legal aid. In addition to providing free legal services to veterans, CVLC also serves as a legal information and referral resource for social service agencies, legislative bodies and attorneys serving veterans across the state of Connecticut and the United States.



1.     Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) has helped over 1300 veterans rebuild their lives by resolving legal barriers to recovery.

2.    For every legal issue, CVLC clients and attorneys set client-determined goals. CVLC tracks the progress of those goals during and at the conclusion of representation. During the past year, 80 percent of CVLC client goals were achieved or partially achieved.

3.   CVLC and a partner organization in New York are concluding a two-year research grant for $700,000 awarded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. This is the first-ever study of the mental health and well-being of veterans who get legal help integrated into VA care.

4.    CVLC has built a network of over 650 volunteer attorneys, paralegals and law students committed to assisting veterans in need.


1.     To serve as the national model for the integration of legal aid into the system of VA care for veterans and demonstrate the efficacy of this medical-legal partnership.

2.    To use technology to improve the experience and efficiency of volunteer lawyers serving veterans. Plans include online feedback and time tracking as well as online access to training and model documents.

3.  To expand the pro bono impact of Connecticut attorneys by connecting private practice, firms and corporate attorneys to veterans in need of legal services.  


1.     Gifts of any size help fund our core mission to help veterans overcome legal barriers to housing, healthcare and income.

2. Non-legal corporate executives passionate about CVLC’s mission to serve on the program’s board and its task forces addressing development, finance, strategic planning and public relations. 

3.    Volunteer professional services improve CVLC's organizational capacity. CVLC is actively recruiting volunteers with media, marketing or communications expertise to help us increase our regional visibility. 

4.   Volunteer attorneys, paralegals and law students to increase CVLC's capacity to serve clients.

5. Donation of printers, software licenses or other electronic goods, office space in West Haven and interesting and beautiful spaces in which to hold fundraising events. 
CEO Statement

It’s hard not to grin during a visit to CVLC at the VA’s Errera Community Care Center. Here’s an idea of what you’ll see and an overview of what we are doing there.

You’ll emerge from the elevator into a big sunny room, with lovely old wood floors and twenty-foot ceilings. Light floods in from a skylight above and a wall of ten foot high windows in front of you. A boombox is playing and veterans are sitting at long lunch tables chatting over coffee or reading the paper.

These veterans face adversity and come here to learn to confront it together. Some have fought in wars and bear invisible injuries that make the simple routines of daily living difficult. Others are reuniting with their families after decades of substance abuse. Some are homeless for the first time after losing their jobs. All are vulnerable and all have shown up.

Past the welcome desk on your left there is a tiny closet of a room, about half the size of a dorm room, with a couple of desks, a filing cabinet and an over-whelmed coat rack. This is the only office of Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, the first organization in the country to bring legal help to veterans all day, everyday at the place they go to rebuild their lives. A housing specialist drops by with a veteran who got a notice to leave his apartment, a veteran stops in because he heard that his friend got a pardon with our help, and a veteran calls because she got a piece of mail from the VA she doesn’t understand.

These veterans talk with CVLC’s paralegal, who connects them with one of four attorneys on staff. These attorneys might help them understand their rights or their mail, they might write a letter to a landlord who kept the veterans’ security deposit, or help them fill out a financial affidavit to modify their child support. These attorneys might connect the veteran with one of the hundreds of volunteer attorneys from across Connecticut who have agreed to help by donating their time and expertise.

In addition to feeling good, CVLC’s work does good; we know that because we measure our impact so we can focus our limited resources on the most successful  interventions. In the past year, when we succeeded in helping a veteran apply for VA benefits, we improved their annual income by an average of $5,374. When they came to us for help with a landlord-tenant dispute we helped them avoid emergency shelter 80% of the time. In fact, for every dollar CVLC spent last year, we returned $4.94 in reduced debt, increased income and donated attorney time to indigent veterans in our community.

Board Chair Statement About four years ago I was drawn to an article in the local lawyer’s newspaper that talked about a fledgling nonprofit with a couple of dynamic attorneys who were working to help homeless veterans with legal issues.  What caught my eye was the fact that these legal services were being brought to the social services center where these veterans were working to turn their whole lives around.  It made perfect sense to me and I knew I could help.   I had to meet the driving force of this group, Margaret Middleton, and I had to see where she was doing this work.  It was one of those experiences that you will always remember.  I could actually see that the work CVLC was doing had a direct and immediate impact on these veterans.  They were so thankful just to have someone try to help them and you could see that as the legal burdens were lifted, their other issues, such as addiction and homelessness, became easier to handle.  So began my dedication to CVLC.  Since that day, CVLC has developed connections with hundreds of volunteer attorneys who take on veteran cases on a pro bono basis and CVLC staff has grown to service a very important need.  Challenges still remain  - more veterans over a broader geographic area need to be helped and CVLC is working hard to do that.   It is extremely rewarding work and I have been very lucky to be able to work with such dedicated and talented people at CVLC.
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Crime & Legal - Related / Legal Services
Secondary Organization Category Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy / Disabled Persons' Rights
Tertiary Organization Category Human Services / Homeless Services/Centers
Areas Served
East Haven
Lower Naugatuck Valley
New Haven
North Branford
North Haven
State wide
West Haven
CVLC serves veterans across the state of Connecticut though the majority of CVLCs clients reside in the Greater New Haven Community. This is in part because Connecticut's only full-service in-patient VA hospital is in West Haven and affiliated with the Yale Medical School. The hospital and its many services make Greater New Haven an attractive location for veterans in need of ongoing mental health, case management, housing and employment support.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

CVLC is 6 years old and after helping over 1300 veterans, it is at a critical point in its growth. The organization needs to build and strengthen its board so that it can perform the tasks that CVLC will require in the years ahead.

CVLC has identified several key priorities areas for growth in its Board. Any potential new Board member should meet at least one of these priorities:

· Significant involvement in development

· Accounting/financial skills

· Geographic diversity

· Marketing/Public Relations skills

· Gender & Ethnic diversity

· Corporate executive representation

· Members with military service

Additionally, any potential Board member must be able to fulfill the established responsibilities and expectations. Any person who joins the Board of Directors agrees to:

· Consistently attend Board and committee meetings

· Participate in at least one Board committee

· Assist in resource development by:


  • Making an annual financial gift to the extent of his or her capacity
  • Asking his or her employer or other corporate entities to which you are related to donate
  • Assist in development activities including, for example, site visits, talking about CVLC’s programs and mission, thanking donors, attending/hosting fundraising and friend-raising events


· Be an informed participant, which includes:


  • Attending Board orientation
  • Reviewing the Bylaws
  • Preparing for Board meetings by reviewing reports, minutes, and financial documents
  • Actively participating in Board discussions
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Adhere to the Board’s Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Enhance CVLC’s public standing in the community


Please contact CVLC's Executive Director Margaret Middleton at for more information.


The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) partners with the VA Errera Community Care Center (ECCC) in West Haven to help veterans remove legal barriers to stable housing and income. CVLC’s medical-legal partnership with the ECCC integrates legal assistance into the network of services provided to veterans by the VA and other agencies. While the VA Connecticut Healthcare System provides quality medical, mental health and rehabilitation services to eligible veterans, it provides no legal assistance. VA’s General Counsel previously recognized CVLC as the first organization in the country to fill that gap by integrating legal services into VA care and remains the only program serving veterans full-time on-site at any VA. This partnership helps homeless veterans get and stay housed. CVLC strongly believes in creating a collaborative environment built on multiple capacities in which veterans can overcome social, economic and legal barriers to live self-determined and meaningful lives. The partnership strongly affirms that integrated legal care leads to healthier patients.

The goal of providing free legal services to low-income veterans— including advice, pro bono referral and direct representation— is to increase housing and income stability, create greater access to healthcare, and most importantly maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing healthcare services to provide the best healthcare to veterans. The partnership serves veterans with a wide variety of legal issues including family, housing, expungement, bankruptcy, consumer, Social Security, VA benefits, employment, estate planning, and military discharge upgrades. CVLC is the only organization in Connecticut that targets the legal needs of indigent veterans and the only organization in the state that provides legal assistance with veteran-specific issues, including VA benefits and discharge upgrades.

Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent / Elderly and/or Disabled / Homeless
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. In the short term, individual clients achieve positive outcomes through an assessment of their legal issues; this allows them to be aware of the steps they need to improve housing and income stability and access to healthcare. Clients also benefit because their VA providers are more familiar with the legal remedies that may be available to them. CVLC makes an effort to focus its resources on those types of claims that are most likely to end in meaningful outcomes for veterans and the level of service that is most likely to achieve those outcomes. CVLC tracks these short term successes using a custom-programmed evaluation database. Ultimately, CVLC strives for a strategic and efficient deployment of resources such that 90% of completed cases result in either: improved housing stability, improved income or improved access to healthcare. For some examples of how well CVLC achieves these goals now, please see the "examples of program success" section below.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
CVLC's vision is for all military veterans in our community to live with adequate means, affordable healthcare, safe and secure housing and peace of mind. To achieve that end, CVLC partners with housing and healthcare providers and fills in the missing piece: assistance to overcome legal barriers to housing, healthcare and income. CVLC’s objective in working with medical and service providers is to focus its limited resources on those veterans who have taken a step towards their own recovery by seeking help. CVLC works with mental health and addiction counselors, in the hope that legal assistance can help break the cycle of chronic homelessness and achieve the VA’s goal to end veteran homelessness.
If CVLC and its partners are successful then in the long-term, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will not suffer the same high rates of homelessness and untreated mental illness that have plagued Vietnam veterans for decades. Success will mean a paradigm shift in the way this country takes care of the young people who fight its wars. Indicators of success will be no more homeless veterans, fewer incarcerated combat veterans and high-quality care and timely compensation for all veterans who seek it.

Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. CVLC continuously evaluates program success using a custom-built evaluation database. At the close of any matter, CVLC's attorneys record wheither the outcome improved a veteran's housing stability, increased income, reduced debt, improved access to health care or improved access to the justice system. For income and debt figures, CVLC's attorneys record the dollar amount of any financial improvement for the client. The entire staff reviews these mission-driven outcomes for every closed case at CVLC's weekly staff meeting and reviews the aggregate outcome data four times a year.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

Last year CVLC helped resolve over 200 legal issues that improved veterans’ housing stability. For each veteran, these outcomes can be life changing. For example, CVLC connected a Vietnam combat veteran facing eviction with a pro bono attorney. Severe PTSD left the veteran few social supports and panicked about being kicked out of his home. The volunteer called the fire marshal and confirmed the veteran’s apartment violated code as it lacked sufficient exits. Because of the violation, the landlord paid for the veteran’s lodging while he found new housing working with a VA housing specialist. The attorney also helped the veteran successfully get a quick VA disability compensation determination. The successful claim increased the veteran’s monthly income by $2,800 giving him enough to afford a new apartment. The veteran told CVLC ““if [the volunteer lawyer] was my own brother, he couldn’t have done better for me…without him I would’ve been lost.”


Some of the most injured veterans in New Haven are denied care right now because of wartime mental injuries--an injustice that Connecticut Veterans Legal Center is working to fix.

The Department of Defense (DoD) characterizes every military member’s service at the completion of his or her enlistment. When a veteran is refused an honorable discharge, that veteran may become ineligible for VA benefits and suffer limited civilian employability. For some soldiers, behaviors symptomatic of PTSD or traumatic brain injury lead to a less-than-honorable discharge, meaning some of our most wounded warriors are barred from care.
CVLC assists veterans with military records corrections and, in collaboration with Yale Law School, created a military discharge upgrades training manual that has been used to train attorneys across the United States. CVLC and Yale Law School are the only programs in Connecticut providing legal assistance to address this important and growing problem.
Population Served People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities / Offenders/Ex-Offenders / Other Named Groups
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.

Records corrections cases can take years to resolve, so CVLC’s immediate success will be in building a robust program. In the short-term, this program will train volunteers to start taking cases to assist veterans seeking records corrections. To date, around 100 Connecticut attorneys at approximately 35 law firms and corporations have been trained; in addition, attorneys in New York and New Mexico have had access to CVLC training and support. Short-term success includes the number of clients screened, the number of clients whose cases are being developed through records requests, the number of clients who have been assigned a volunteer attorney and the number of clients who have filed a records request with their volunteer attorney.

Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. This aspect of CVLC’s program has the potential to secure profound long-term changes in the lives of thousands of veterans. CVLC clients who achieve records corrections would be eligible for free lifetime medical care, the GI Bill, improved employability along with the validation of their military service. In addition to these individual outcomes, CVLC’s national leadership in this area is helping dozens of other programs advocate for veterans by providing materials and training to advocates around the country. The expansion of advocacy in this underserved area will ultimately result in reforms both to the way the military discharges soldiers and to the way the military handles requests for corrections after discharge.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

Outcomes of the Records Corrections program are tracked in CVLC’s case management database. In addition to the data and outcomes CVLC tracks for every matter, for these particularly complex matters CVLC staff track what records have been requested, reviewed and by whom. To monitor the program’s development, CVLC staff track how many attorneys have been trained, how many have taken pro bono cases and how many have filed applications with their clients. For more information about the CVLC’s custom-programmed evaluation system and outcome-oriented management please read about CVLC’s core legal aid program.

Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

A number of veterans have received life-changing help from this program. For example, a Vietnam veteran was referred to CVLC by a VA homeless outreach worker. The veteran was ineligible for VA care because of an Other Than Honorable discharge despite four other honorable terms of prior service. CVLC successfully appealed the veteran’s eligibility for VA care. Not only does he receive a lifetime of quality medical care, he is now living in permanent supportive housing funded by VA and is no longer homeless.

There is not enough outcome data yet to determine whether this program will achieve its long-term goals. However, input data show that the program operates robustly: Short-term success includes the number of clients screened (129), number of clients whose cases have been developed through records requests (78), the number of clients who have been assigned a volunteer attorney (26) and the number of clients who have filed an application for upgrade with their volunteer attorney (5).

CVLC strives to improve and reform the systems that indigent veterans rely on. CVLC advocates for policy changes on both the state and federal levels by drafting legislation, lobbying for new policies, publishing reports that analyze current performance and recommend change, testifying before legislative committees and raising awareness using traditional and social media. CVLC’s advocacy issues include VA disability compensation reform, diverting veterans from jail to treatment, and removing barriers to veteran employment.

Population Served At-Risk Populations / Homeless / Adults
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals No
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.

Barring passage of the Ruth Moore Act, short term success would be increased public awareness about the difficulty of victims of military sexual assault to be properly compensated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and support for reform.

A major short term success would be the passage of SB 212 currently pending in the Connecticut legislature. This bill would reform policies regarding the recognition of relevant military occupational training for civilian licenses and college credit. It would save veterans from having to repeat occupational training that they completed in the military. CVLC recently published a report that demonstrates a clear need for policy reform in this area and is lobbying legislators to pass SB 212.

Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.

Long-term success would be for effective policies on both the state and federal levels which provide veterans with the best possible chance to successfully transition to civilian life. 

On a national scale, CVLC works to see significant improvements in the VA disability compensation system. In particular, elimination of the unrealistic evidentiary burdens placed on victims of military sexual violence by the VA disability compensation system. This could be achieved by passage of the Ruth Moore Act by Congress, for which CVLC has advocated.

On the state level, CVLC has two goals. The first is to see positive effects from the implementation of its Veterans Jail Diversion Bill. This means a decrease in veterans going to jail for minor offenses, and an increase in veterans charged with minor crimes enrolling in recovery programs. The second is to see lower unemployment and faster college graduation for veterans thanks to reforms in civilian professional licensing and college crediting.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

Success of CVLC's policy reform efforts can be monitored by the progress of bills in the state and federal legislature, the number of traditional media pieces in Connecticut about these issues, the number of views of CVLC’s social media pieces on these issues and the number of public speaking engagements CVLC has to raise awareness of these issues.

Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

One success of this program was the adoption of a state bill drafted and lobbied for by CVLC.  In 2012, working with students from Yale Law School's Veterans Legal Services Clinic, CVLC helped to pass a Connecticut law which provides veterans with more opportunities to receive treatment rather than jail time. The law gives judges and attorneys more discretion, allowing them to give veterans the ability to build a successful and fulfilling civilian life.

CVLC has also successfully raised awareness of the issues of military sexual assault and VA compensation in Connecticut. WNPR’s Where We Live has devoted an hour to the issue, including CVLC’s Executive Director Margaret Middleton as a guest. WNPR also covered CVLC’s congressional testimony on the issue.

Program Comments
CEO Comments

Young men and women who serve their country at war face serious challenges when they get home.

•First, they are often mentally injured during military service. According to a RAND study, 37% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have been seen at a VA facility have been diagnosed with a mental health issue.

•Second, they face unemployment. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University reported that in February 2013 the youngest post-9/11 veterans (aged 20-24) experienced the highest unemployment rate of all age groups, at 38%. This joblessness rate is more than twice as high as their non-veteran counterparts.

•Finally, the demands of service place a substantial strain on veterans’ intimate relationships. A 2011 study of recently discharged New York State veterans by the RAND Corporation reported that many marriages were in jeopardy due to veterans’ mood changes (44%) and worry over the possibility of redeployment (42%).

These three challenges - mental injury, unemployment, and family stress - result in an unacceptably high rate of homelessness amongst veterans. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), poor single veterans, female veterans, poor African-American veterans, and veterans aged 18-30 are all more than twice as likely to become homeless as similarly situated non-veterans.

Veteran place legal assistance at the top of their list of unmet needs. In recently released data from a 2012 VA-sponsored survey, veterans ranked legal assistance to prevent eviction or foreclosure, to address child support issues, to restore a drivers’ license, and to eliminate warrants and fines as the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th highest unmet needs in a list of over 30 options. Homeless or formerly homeless veterans rank these legal needs as less likely to be met than their needs for permanent, transitional, or emergency housing, all of which are addressed by VA’s current continuum of care.

Despite the clear and compelling need for legal help, the VA does not provide this service. Instead, it counts on partners like CVLC to fill this gap. William Russo, Esq.—advisor to the VA Office of General Counsel—summarized VA’s strategy this way: “Recognizing the force-multiplying effect of legal services on its efforts to prevent and end veterans' homelessness, [VA] encourages staff at its medical centers, outpatient clinics, and Vet Centers to refer veterans with unmet legal needs to local legal service providers, and, where possible, to provide office space for legal service providers to work with veterans on-site.”

CEO/Executive Director
Ms. Margaret Middleton
Term Start Sept 2009
Experience Margaret Middleton serves as Executive Director of Connecticut Veterans Legal Center which she co-founded with Howard Udell in 2009. She also co-teaches Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic, a position she has held since the clinic started in 2010.  Previously, she was an Emerson Fellow at David Rosen and Associates in New Haven and a law clerk to The Honorable Janet C. Hall of the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, CT. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering and worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory before attending the New York University School of Law.
Number of Full Time Staff 7
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 650
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate 100%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 6
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 3 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 1
Female 6
Unspecified 3
Senior Staff
Title Staff Attorney

Cindy Johnson is a Staff Attorney at Connecticut Veterans Legal Center. Prior to pursuing her dream to become a public interest lawyer, she had a 25 year career in Software Development. She is a graduate of University of Connecticut School of Law. 

She is admitted to the Connecticut State Bar and is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and the New Haven County Bar Association.

Title Senior Counsel

A graduate of George Washington University National Law Center, Christy has served as a leader in the public interest law community in New Haven and nationally. Her previous experience includes working as Director of George Washington University’s Consumer HELP Bankruptcy Clinic, the Managing Attorney at Valley Legal Assistance, and the Deputy Director at New Haven Legal Assistance.

Christy has also worked as a Visiting Clinical Instructor at Yale Law School and served on the Board of Directors at the Columbus House and Washington Council of Lawyers.

Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation No
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually

CVLC works in medical-legal partnership with mental health and homeless services providers at VA Connecticut. In addition to that core partnership, CVLC partners with:

·      The Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) to identify volunteer attorneys and train them in VA Benefits claims and discharge upgrades.

·      Yale Law School’s Veterans’ Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) to jointly create a military discharge upgrades training manual and, along with the CBA, train volunteer attorneys in handling discharge upgrades.

·      VLSC to draft and lobby for legislative reforms in CT to help veterans avoid jail, access care, and reenter the workforce.

·      Columbus House and WorkPlace Inc. through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

·      Give an Hour and Yale School of Medicine to recruit and train the first network of mental health providers to provide free evaluations for veterans seeking VA and DoD assistance.

·      New York Legal Assistance Group and Yale School of Medicine to complete a two-year study of the VA medical-legal partnership.

·      NHLAA and Statewide Legal Services, who give advice to CVLC attorneys and help with pro bono placement for family cases.

Dozen Who Make a DifferenceConnecticut Law Tribune2010
New Leaders in the LawConnecticut Law Tribune2012
40 under 40Connecticut Magazine2014
New Leaders in AdvocacyNLADA2014
CEO Comments

CVLC's strong management and governance capacities create the foundation that allows CVLC to innovate relentlessly: 

  • CVLC was recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2013 as the first organization in the country to integrate legal services into VA care for veterans; a model the VA now promotes nationally.
  • CVLC published the only peer-reviewed academic paper on that model in 2012.
  • CVLC started the first legal services practice in veterans’ benefits and military records corrections in Connecticut in 30 years.
  • CVLC has started a first-of-its kind longitudinal evaluation of the mental health and well-being outcomes of veterans who receive legal help integrated with VA care thanks to a $700,000 grant to CVLC and a partner organization from the Bristol-Myer Squibb Foundation.
  • CVLC has helped several corporations including Sikorsky Aircraft, Purdue Pharma, and Harmon International start pro bono programs from scratch, connecting their in-house attorneys with veterans in need.
  • In the next year, CVLC will partner with Give an Hour and the Yale School of Medicine Psychiatry Department’s Law and Psychiatry Division to recruit and train the first class of mental health providers ready to provide pro bono forensic evaluations to indigent veterans.
  • CVLC hosted the first conference of veteran-specific legal services programs bringing 10 programs from five states together in New Haven to identify challenges and opportunities in this growing field.

In all of these ways CVLC represents the advanced guard in serving the needs of veterans, which is why legal services programs, funders, state bar associations and VA employees from at least a dozen states and the District of Columbia have sought CVLC’s expertise and advice in designing programs to serve the legal needs of veterans.

Board Chair
Mr. John Bashaw
Company Affiliation Reid & Riege, P.C.
Term Jan 2014 to Mar 2016
Board of Directors
Mr. Adam M. Dworkin Griffin Faculty Practice Plan
Ms. Karen Hunter Hartford Hospital
Ms. Patricia Kaplan Retired
Mr. John Kelley Children in Placement
Mr. Kevin Lenehan Sikorsky Aircraft
Mr. Mike Moravecek CT DHMAS
Mr. Edward O'Hanlan Robinson & Cole
Mr. Brian Pierne Deloitte
Mr. David Rosen David Rosen & Associates
Mr. John J. Shay Jr.Retired
Ms. Kathi Tourjee Web MD
Mr. Jeffrey A. Udell Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP
Mr. Neil Weare We the People Project
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 11
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 4 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 11
Female 3
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Additional Board/s Members and Affiliations
Richard Blumenthal US Senator, CT
Laurie Harkness Errera Community Health Center
Professor Michael Wishnie Yale School of Law
CEO Comments

CVLC has a robust, high performing management and governance team. According to the Community Foundation’s “Guiding Principles for Nonprofits: Leadership, Evaluation and Sound Management,” CVLC’s board functions highly on several core management objectives.

First, the board establishes the mission and sets the organizational direction to achieve it. The board completed CVLC’s first strategic plan in 2013 and adopted a Time Action Plan with specific steps to monitor progress of the plan, identified by deadline and person accountable. The highest priority item identified in the strategic plan was board membership recruitment. The staff prepared materials to use for board recruitment introducing prospective members to CVLC's mission, organization and expectations. The board adopted criteria for new member selection, identified and interviewed prospective new members. In keeping with the Time Action Plan, the board has added three new members, each of whom fits criteria identified in the strategic plan, including racial diversity, geographic diversity, connections to large corporations, marketing expertise, and finance expertise. The board has successfully undergone its first change in leadership, with now-Board Chair John Bashaw replacing founding Board Chair David Rosen earlier this year. John has already assumed an active leadership role, meeting with prospective members and funders, including the Connecticut Bar Foundation and the Community Foundation. CVLC is in the third and final year of this Strategic Plan and will be developing a new plan in the upcoming months.

Second, the board exercises strong oversight over CVLC’s finances. The board has adopted written financial controls that address potential conflicts of interest by clearly delineating the roles of the finance manager, the executive director, and the board in responsible money management. In particular, the financial controls create systemic checks so that no single agent controls any part of fund management without oversight. In addition to these policies, the board requires regular financial reporting from the staff. The board’s financial direction has been so prudent and conservative that CVLC has run at a small surplus every completed fiscal year for the last five years.

Fiscal Year Start July 01 2015
Fiscal Year End June 30 2016
Projected Revenue $610,465.00
Projected Expenses $689,465.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
Other Documents
Other Documents 3
Annual Report 2014-152015View
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201420132012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$27,704$0$0
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses------
Membership Dues------
Special Events$253,931$166,403--
Revenue In-Kind------
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$269,194$169,246$133,764
Administration Expense$30,370$26,585$15,233
Fundraising Expense$330$20,104$3,220
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.711.441.26
Program Expense/Total Expenses90%78%88%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%6%2%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$454,036$229,613$131,783
Current Assets$454,036$229,613$131,120
Long-Term Liabilities$12,512$4,309--
Current Liabilities$2,713$154$2,451
Total Net Assets$438,811$225,150$129,332
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountBristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation $180,240The Communtiy Foundation for Greater New Haven $39,000The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven $25,000
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountSikorsky Aircraft $30,000Clara Jackson Carter Foundation $30,000Jana Foundation $20,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountJana Foundation $20,000Chadbourne & Parke, LLP $25,000J Walton Bissell Foundation $15,000
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities167.361490.9953.50
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets3%2%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
CEO Comments
Connecticut Veterans Legal Center has not been required by the IRS or state agencies to complete financial audits until 2015. Financial reports prepared by CVLC's finance manager and approved by the board, in addition to filed 990's are available on request. CVLC will have a full audit completed and available in 2016.

The board and staff have built a diverse and resilient funding base that allows CVLC to adapt to abrupt funding changes. The organization suffered a huge loss with the death of its co-founder, board member and inspiration, Howard Udell, in 2013. However, the organization was able to withstand the loss of Howard’s leadership and fundraising power, even adding substantial new funding sources and additional staff within the six months following his death, because its existing revenue model targeted diverse funding sources. Within the last fiscal year, CVLC achieved several long-term funding goals including: securing state funding in the form of IOLTA funds from the Connecticut Bar Foundation, securing federal funding in the form of sub-grants under the VA’s Supportive Services for Veterans Families and securing a national funder with a $770,000 two-year grant from the Bristol-Myer Squibb Foundation.

Foundation Staff Comments
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
Address 114 Orange Avenue, 2nd Floor
West Haven, CT 06516
Primary Phone 203 794-4291
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Margaret Middleton
Board Chair Mr. John Bashaw
Board Chair Company Affiliation Reid & Riege, P.C.


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